Holiday Spirit – Happy Chanukah!

Now that we’re in the midst of this year’s “holiday season,” the Chanukah lights have been sparkling at our house:

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Also, Noah gave me this great new sweatshirt as a Chanukah gift!:

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Even though the winter holidays are starting, my fall hiatus from blogging left a few fall holidays unaccounted for. The definite highlight of the fall holidays for me was Sukkot. Noah and I helped to build a sukkah at a friend’s house. We and few others spent the afternoon assembling/decorating the sukkah, and then we all enjoyed a wonderful meal outside together when the holiday started. I got some great photos of the sukkah-building process progressing throughout the afternoon. It started with the frame:

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Then we put up the walls and some lights:

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And finally we added the skach (the vegetation that covers the roof of the sukkah – skach must cover the majority of the roof but leave enough space left so you can see the sunshine and stars) and decorations!:

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Great holiday fun. 🙂

The last holiday to share a photo from is Halloween….Noah came back from a work trip just in time for Halloween, so we celebrated our reunion with some pumpkin carving:

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SpoOoOoOoOoOoOoky!!!

On that note, hag orim sameach (happy Festival or Lights), and hopefully I’ll check in again soon with some posts about our impromptu 3-day trip to Montreal (we’re leaving in the morning!!!).

Cocktails at the Castle

Continuing my recap of fun activities during my blogging hiatus, a nod to a fabulous evening at the American Swedish Institute is in order. The ASI is a cultural center and museum that hosts a variety of events within its mansion-like walls. Sure, you could probably have a wedding here, but I went for a Halloween bash called ‘Cocktails at the Castle.’ This was ADULTS ONLY.

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Don’t worry, it wasn’t too explicit. That was just the rule for buying tickets. 🙂

I biked to the institute since exercise is good and my date was a biker chick:

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Checking in was a process of getting ID’d, ditching coats, and noticing how cool all the costumes were!

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Biking to the event earned us a cool stamp and $1 off drinks!

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Friends arrived…and cue to the taco!

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Once everyone was there, we ascended the rainbow staircase to see what the castle held!

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We discovered music and masks and acrobats and a photo booth!

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Plus turkey legs:

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Plus modern art:

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I would definitely go to Cocktails at the Castle again – if for no other reason than to check out the costumes. The event had a few more activities as well (palm reader and ‘write your own obituary,’ for example), but we opted out of these activities due either to the long lines or morbid undertones.

Falafel Two Ways and PUMPKINS

I’ve tried falafel at two Minneapolis restaurants in the last few weeks.

The first was at the Uptown classic, Falafel King.

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At the corner of Lake and Lyndale, Falafel King is right in the center of Uptown buzz and makes for a convenient lunch/snack/dinner stop.

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It’s a simple restaurant with limited seating and a basic Mediterranean menu: falafel, gyro, chicken, hummus, and tzatziki mixed together in various combinations. I ordered a greek salad with falafel and my friend got the basic falafel sandwich:

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Yum! The falafel was super crispy and flavorful. I liked the salad but would probably go for a wrap next time just to get more tzatziki mixed in.

The second place I ate falafel was Vitali’s Bistro Cafe.

Vitali’s opened fairly recently, and, due to the recent closer of Little Tel Aviv in Calhoun Commons, is now the only kosher restaurant in the Minneapolis area. Fun fact: Little Tel Aviv is being replaced by another Falafel King. whomp whomp

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Vitali’s is in St. Louis Park at the former location of Bean Good Cafe. Service is at a walk up counter, but there is plenty of table space to sit.

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They offer a full espresso menu as well as some baked goods, smoothies, ice cream, and shakes. For food, it’s a broad menu with blintzes, omelets, sandwiches, sushi, salads, soup, and bagels. I got the falafel plate which came with falafel, pita, hummus, tzatziki, and Israeli salad:

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The primary difference between the falafel at Falafel King and Vitali’s is that the former is fried and the latter is baked. The flavor in Vitali’s falafel seemed a little strong in an ‘off’ way (maybe too much cumin?). If I went back, I would order something different from the menu – there were plenty of other items that looked appealing!

Enough about falafel….

Since we are squarely in the fall season now, you may have noticed a sudden spike in the ubiquity of pumpkins. We can eat it, drink it, decorate with it, and – best of all – carve it!

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My pumpkin was a big old thing that we got at Malt Tees, and Noah had a smaller pie pumpkin. We scooped out the insides and set to work on internet-inspired designs.

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The final products came out pretty great if I say so myself.

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In the daylight they are not too scary…

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…but get them in the dark and you’re in for a spook!

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If you haven’t carved a pumpkin yet this season, GET TO IT! 🙂

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